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🎣 A Gift to Penguin Capital 🐧

My supply of fish was running low, so I traveled to Penguin Capital today. As you’d expect, it's a city in the north largely populated by penguins and their allies. It's located in an area central to The Snow, The Expanse, and The Tundra, making it easy to travel between these areas; which are sectioned off by large mountains and ice water.

It was built long ago with the help of ice mages who sought to protect the feathery critters who were almost hunted to extinction. Penguins had to be strong to survive, especially from the dangerous predators in The Tundra like frost gnomes, yetis, and abominable snow mimics. Now it flourishes as a convenient resting point for those willing to travel throughout the northern region as its central point between key regions of the north benefits friends of the Penguins with easier transport. The mountains surrounding it make for great natural walls, with tunnels carved through them that are heavily guarded for safe commuting in and out of the city.

It is a city of contrasts, with stark white buildings and dark shadows cast by the towering mountains that surround it. The streets are slick with ice, and the chill in the air is palpable. Despite the harsh environment, the streets are bustling with activity, as penguins and their allies hurry about their daily business.

I sent my trusty owl Mochi with a message to Warrior #15502 who lives within, so she could prepare for my arrival. She's somewhat treated as a princess to the Penguins, but as far as I can tell she doesn't care about the clout, just loves all the fish they shower her with in gratitude for her protection. Building a relationship with her was highly beneficial, as she always has a surplus of exotic fish to trade and share.

But on the way there, while crossing through The Snow, I spotted a pirate ship which was stranded on expansive snowy white land... far away from any liquid bodies of water.

It was a creaky old vessel, manned by a group of rugged sailors. They were working hard to get the ship back in shape, patching the holes in the hull and replacing the broken ropes. The decks were cluttered with tools and debris, and the sailors were shouting orders to each other. The ship's figurehead, a mermaid with a crown and sword, was missing an arm, and her face was twisted in a grotesque grimace.

It seems that the pirate crew had made a grave mistake in navigation while en route to Donut Atoll in search of the elusive "Jellybeard's Treasure." Whatever that is. They encountered a vicious Strawberry Shortcake Kraken. I’ve never heard of it before, so I have no clue if they were exaggerating their description or not. According to the crew, the kraken’s massive body is covered in thick, pink and red striped tentacles that are adorned with sugary-looking pink and white swirls. Its eyes are large and round, with a bright red iris, speckled with white spots that looked like seeds, giving it a menacing yet playful appearance. It's known for its mischievous and playful nature, but it should not be underestimated as it can be quite dangerous when it feels threatened.

The creature lifted their ship and sent it hurtling across the land and sea, landing them far north in the Tundra. Despite the severity of the incident, it was nothing short of a miracle that the ship managed to land in one piece. The softness of the landing was a clear indication that some form of Aeromancy had been used to cushion the fall.

As I approached the ship, I was filled with hope, as I thought I might be able to trade for something valuable. However, it was clear that the crew was only on this quest because they were painfully poor and banking hard on the treasure to ease their financial troubles. How unlucky for them to be thrown this far. Okay actually, it's somewhat hilarious but I'll hold back my laughter for their sake."

Still, they were in need of a map since their lack of one was how they got lost in the first place. If they didn't know where they were before, there's no way there'd know where they are now. Of course I happen to carry a few with me, since it's not unlikely you'll find a lost traveler in these parts, but I don't run a charity so they had to negotiate for it.

As I climbed aboard the rickety pirate ship, I couldn't help but feel a sense of disappointment at the state of the vessel. The ship was in a shoddy condition and seemed to be devoid of anything valuable. The cheap wooden utensils and plates, the pungent smell of cheap beer and wine, and the moldy cheese that seemed barely edible, It’s no wonder the crew was in dire need of treasure just to pay off their bills. But as I was about to give up on finding any valuable items, my eyes caught sight of a bundle of fishing poles stacked neatly in a corner of the main deck. It was an unexpected find, but it seemed the crew had a hobby for fishing, and it was something that caught my interest.

Can’t imagine being a pirate and disliking fish. Well I happen to know some professional fishers myself who would probably make good use of those. I asked for half their stock of fishing poles in exchange for my map. Of course the deal was clearly in my favor, but their only other option was to remain lost in the north for who knows how long haha. They didn't like it, but they had no choice but to accept the deal. I heard one of the wizards grumble under his breath that they'll never be able to convince the Nightmare Imp for more. They should be fine with the poles they still have left, they're not going to starve or anything... as long as they don't break any along the way back. I gave them some brief instructions on how to get back at sea, winked for luck, and left their ship to continue on the road to Penguin Capital. It's not every day that I have such a chance encounter with a good deal, so I felt pretty lucky keeping that momentum going and negotiating a storm at the capital. Wait, do I want a storm? Yes.


Two large Battle Penguins stood in front of the west gates into the capital. As I approached they puffed out their chests to look more intimidating...how cute lol. But it only took a moment for them to recognize me. Normally you'd need a special identification pass to enter the capital, but I visit so often that I pretty much never need to show it. The guards recognized me, and quickly waddled over to a large drum that rested alongside the gate. One of them took out a pair of fish bones from somewhere under his belly feathers and began beating on it. They always try acting so tough, but I always end up clapping when they do this because it feels like a circus performance. One of the guards turned back to me and took a bow, as the gates opened behind them. The other guard, looking a bit annoyed, nudged his partner in the side. Probably to remind him that they're on duty. They both looked a bit embarrassed but I can't help humoring them when they're this adorable. With a backpack filled with fishing rods, I made my way through the gates and into the capital.

As expected, the capital is filled with Penguins waddling and sliding around the snowy town mostly consisting of igloos and other buildings made entirely of ice. Being fortified by ice magic, all of those structures are certain to be stronger than the average brick building. Beautiful snowbell flowers decorated the town around every corner, they seem to be a favorite for the penguins, probably because of the soothing sounds they emit during heavy snowfall.

Ah right, for anyone reading who’s never seen a snowbell flower before, they only really grow in this region and I just so happen to sell them all year round. The jingling sound they emit is similar to that of a wind chime, and is very helpful for helping pollinators find them even in the heaviest of snowstorms. Of course, settlers have always used them to help lost travelers find their ways back home in those storms - if you follow the chimes you’re getting closer.

As I made my way to one of the tallest ice houses in the capital - the only one sporting a cute cat-face doormat, I felt a tug on the hem of my dress. I looked down and... well what did you expect I’d see?

A cute little chinstrap penguin looked up at me with wide eyes, wearing a green bandana around his neck which was fastened by a large circular red gemstone. I recognized the little fella, it was Dango, Warrior #15502’s cute but deadly companion. He must have been keeping watch of the entrance for my arrival.


“Hey there little fella, cute outfit as usual.”


As I crouched down to pat his head, I couldn't help but feel a sense of dejavu. Just as I had that thought, a loud thud echoed behind me. I immediately knew what it was, it was the unmistakable sound of Fuyumi's massive frozen tuna being dropped on the snowy ground.


“NORIIIIIIIIIIII!”


She shouted excitedly, her arms wrapping tightly around my upper body as she lifted me off the ground in a bear hug. Despite her small stature, Fuyumi was surprisingly strong, no doubt due to her constant carrying of the large frozen tuna. She moved with such swiftness and silence that I was unsure of how long she had been standing behind me, unnoticed. Her sudden embrace was a familiar game of cat and mouse we played, where she would pounce on me with a dramatic greeting. In the past, I used to struggle and wriggle in her grasp, but after years of this routine, I had grown accustomed to it and now let my body dangle limply as she swung me around in her arms. Eventually, she would set me down on the ground, but not before having her fun.


“Hey there Penguin princess, how’s it goin? Time is money 'll get straight to the point. I've got my hands on some killer fishing poles, top-notch, pirate-approved gear. I'm telling you, these babies will take the fishing game in Penguin Capital to the next level. I'll hook you up with them, no charge, all I ask is for today’s fishy haul in return. What do you say? Let's make a deal and make all the penguins in the city happy fishers."


She put her fingers up to her lips inquisitively, slightly folded her cat ears downwards, and responded with a somewhat confused tone.


“Isn’t that the same as just paying for the fish using poles this time? Also don’t call me princess, you know that doesn’t butter me up Nori-chin.”


Hah, I can’t negotiate my way around her that easily huh? Also I should retort against being called Nori-chin but it’s kinda endearing so I could get used to her calling me that.


“Fine fine, you got me there. What do ya say though, poles for fish? You’ll be able to get more with these, right?”


Well, even if she realized it, that doesn’t mean she won’t take the bait. No pun intended? Actually pun intended. It wasn’t a bad deal after all, I just don’t think I’d be able to sell those poles off to anyone. Fuyumi closed her eyes and scratched her chin in a moment of deep thought.


“Well, we don’t need anyone but the penguins to fish really…”

“Damn, the little pudgies are that good at their jobs, huh?”

“...yeah, but this would make things a lot easier for them. Hold on, let me have them test these.”


With that, she whistled over the direction of a small penguin huddle resting near an icy lake. She handed each one of them a pole, and without any instructions they respectfully bowed at Fuyumi and waddled off full speed back to the lake. Wait, they’re going to use the rods themselves? Can’t they just…whatever. Within mere minutes, they all came running back with baskets full of periwinkle salmon. You can only find those in the cold waters here up north, they fetch a premium price. Fuyumi inspected the baskets and looked back at me, her eyes shining in excitement.


“Alright, that’s a huge haul. I’ll tell ya what, we can give you some fish in exchange for the poles if you make us some delicious nigiri with these salmon before you leave as well! And make sure to reserve some of your supplies for the Hall of Cats as a present for me.”


Hah, you blockhead, I would have stood the night here to make sushi for you anyway. Fine, I’ll play it your way. I placed the palms of my hands atop one of the fish baskets, and with a gentle breeze and sparkling blue glow emitting from my gloves, cast a spell to instantly freeze the fish to preserve their freshness. Not to brag or anything, but my flash freeze spell is the best in the north - these fish will be so fresh when they thaw that they’ll feel as if they were just pulled out the water…minus the parasites of course, even the cold resistant ones that’d normally survive normal freezing methods get to swim with the fishes when I’m done with them. Wait, not the best phrase for this case. Pun was intended that time, humor me please.


“Sounds like a deal princess.”

“Don’t call me that, Nori-chin.”


Since then, I have been able to secure a steady supply of premium periwinkle salmon from the capital on a regular basis. But they’re highly sought after and sell out quickly. If you'd like to try this delicacy, I recommend making a reservation as soon as possible for a small additional fee. It's worth the investment to ensure you get a taste of this premium fish.

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Ice Mage Nori of the Expanse (#9742)
Owner: 0x0f27…3907